Salmonella linked to a Newton, North Carolina restaurant could be to blame for as many as 176 illnesses. Since health officials in that area first began receiving reports of Salmonella-like symptoms from the patrons of the Carniceria Y Taqueria Hermanos Chavez restaurant, they have been able to confirm at least 25 cases of Salmonella poisoning. However, the number of people sickened in the Newton, North Carolina Salmonella outbreak is most likely much higher than that, as health officials have limited testing to victims who are at “high risk” of spreading the bacteria, such as those who work in food service or health care.
Health officials in Catawba County, North Carolina are asking anyone who ate at the Carniceria Y Taqueria Hermanos Chavez restaurant off of US 321 Business to contact the health department at (828) 695-5800 if they experience Salmonella symptoms. Salmonella bacteria cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 72 hours of exposure. Children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to complications from Salmonella poisoning. In rare cases, extreme instances of Salmonella poisoning can lead to a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, which is associated with chronic arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Salmonella bacteria sicken 40,000 people every year. Although the true number could be much higher, because it is estimated that for every case of Salmonella poisoning reported, two others are unreported.
The Carniceria & Taqueria Hermanos Chavez restaurant was ordered to close by Catawba County health officials on November 2 after several cases of Salmonella poisoning were linked to the restaurant. The owner of the restaurant has reportedly said that it is doubtful he will reopen the restaurant. Health officials have been unable to determine the source of the Newton, North Carolina Salmonella outbreak, and it is uncertain if they ever will. Health investigators have said, however, that they are especially concerned that this particular Salmonella outbreak could spread further. Many of those sickened in the Newton Salmonella outbreak work at other restaurants in the area. The Catawba County Health Department has sent letters to those victims instructing them to stay home from work until they are free of Salmonella symptoms.
Restaurant outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning are not rare. Last year, raw tomatoes served at restaurants around the country sickened dozens. And this summer over 700 people in the Chicago area became ill from Salmonella after they ate at the Pars Cove Restaurant food booth at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival. Last month, a Quiznos restaurant in Minnesota was implicated in a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least10 people. Other Salmonella outbreaks this year have also been linked to Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter, and to Banquet Pot Pies, all of which were made by ConAgra Foods.